There are so many voices in our world. We have friends, peers, coworkers telling us what they think and feel. We have parents, mentors, teachers, and bosses advising us to listen to their words of wisdom. We hear the noise of voices on social media, news and marketing media all clamoring for our attention. We have bookstores filled with books on every subject imaginable and access to the internet filling our lives with more things to read, listen to, and watch than any sane person should begin to tackle.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” -Jesus
Do you recognize when God speaks? If He were speaking to you right now would you have ears to hear what He was saying to you? We sit in Church, read our Bible and think we know what God’s voice sounds like but do we really know how to recognize when Jesus is speaking to us? I think this is a subject that goes largely silent in the Church. It’s funny really because the Bible has plenty to say about when God speaks.
Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. (1 Sam. 3:4–11)
It’s interesting to me that God found it important to include a story about a young boy who lived at the temple who hears God’s voice calling to him. I wonder if that’s because God wants us to understand that we also need to be listening for God’s voice. We hear so many voices that, if we were in Samuel’s situation, I wonder if we would entirely miss what God is trying to communicate to us because we are hard of hearing and our hearts are dull to listening. So often you and I think we want God to speak loudly. We want that undeniable proof that He’s the one talking. We say we wish He’d e-mail, call or text us so that it would be clear to us what He is saying. We think we want God’s voice to be as described in the psalms.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon…The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (Psalm 29:3–9)
But God often doesn’t speak like that, does He? Even when He does speak to us loudly, I suspect we’re still so easily hard of hearing, slow to obey and just as doubtful as we are now. People were so quick to want Jesus to perform miracles but often slow to listen to what He had to say and dull to apply His words to their hearts. I wonder if this is the reason that God so often whispers. I find that God whispers to me. He is that still small voice that is whispering and communicating His guidance each day.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11–12)
When God speaks, the rest of us should be silent. He does not often shout. He whispers. However, we so often do not know how to listen. If we do hear we often do not listen. If we do listen we often do not believe. We go back to the voices that make more sense to us. We continue to wonder if God might say something that makes more sense to us. We listen to ourselves, to our feelings and what others tell us about us; we are self-obsessed. But God is whispering to us. He is desperately trying to get our attention. We don’t know how to hear His voice because what we are so used to listening to ourselves. You must listen for His voice. You must not think it will only be something big. He likely isn’t speaking through the wind or the earthquake or the fire. He speaks in a gentle whisper. If you hear His voice then listen. Do not let it fade. You must listen to that still small voice.